Thursday, Sept 19, 2002
Democrats attack space
A lively little site, democrats.com,
which bills itself as The aggressive progressives, takes time out from its
usual Bush-bashing to take on the non-military uses of space.
One wonders, since they're opposed to the non-military (in other words, commercial)
uses of space, if they must necessarily support the military ones.
The subject of intense scrutiny from these progressives
(for the meaning of "progressive", see
here, and especially
is TransOrbital, a company
which has just
won approval to explore and land on the Moon. (I leave it to others to debate why
somebody needs government approval to go to the Moon.)
Their first launch is scheduled for June 2003. It will be a lunar orbiter, to
take photographs and make maps of the Moon's surface. After that, it will land on
the Moon. (I suspect it will be a very hard landing.)
Part of Transorbital's mission statement says:
We want to do for the Moon what Jacques Cousteau did for marine
exploration, to go, to see, sell the images as content and repeat it again and again.
In the process, we hope to have some fun as well as helping to open up a new world for
I don't remember anyone getting upset and claiming that "we're giving the oceans
away to France" when Costeau was exploring, mapping, and researching.
What democrats.com claims
[Bush] has turned the moon over to a private, for-profit corporation
called TransOrbital that has a far-reaching, frigthening agenda for the corporate
domination of space.
They don't say what they think the "frigthening agenda"
might be. Easier to
shovel innuendo than to risk wasting facts that might be challenged. And we note the
usual socialist dread of anything resembling "profit".
Bush simply acted as if the moon were his to give away.
Most of us missed the part about the deed to the Moon being handed over
to TransOrbital. Costeau doesn't have the deed to the oceans, either.
The TransOrbital venture could be disastrous for the globe - no
scientist today could predict yet how adding mass to the moon via human infrastructure
or removing mass, via mining, will impact the delicate gravitational interplay between
Earth and its only satellite.
That's the trouble with scientists - ask them a question and they give you a truthful
answer. That's assuming, of course, that democrats.com
actually bothered to ask
a scientist about that. A reputable scientist will only answer with what he knows
is fact - because he's done the experiment - or what he can infer from available
data. I suspect that any reputable scientist - and I mean here, astrophysicist,
that being the area of expertise - would have to conclude that the amount of material
that we could either carry away or add, would be negligible compared to the mass of the
Moon - approximately 0.07349*1024
kg, equivalent to 8.08*1019
These people have evidently been watching the recent
in which the Moon disintegrates because we've been building resort colonies on it.
Consider also that it
still costs about $6,000 to move one pound of material to the International Space Station.
Over time - millions of years - considerable mass has already been added to
the Moon - and to the Earth as well.
Every one of those craters you see up there was caused by a meteor crashing at high speed
onto the Moon's surface. The largest crater
is about 200 km (about 125 miles) across. I leave it to you to consider what a
125-mile wide meteor, travelling at thousands of miles per second, might do to the Moon's
surface, or to its orbit. It would certainly have been a grand sight, from the Earth.
But the "delicate gravitational interplay" they worry about is just another charming fiction
they've dreamed up.
democrats.com charges blindly on, heedless of fact:
Check out this home page: http://www.transorbital.net/index.html -
notice the ad at the top of the page, where the company brags that it will make it
possible to display commercial messages on the surface of the moon.
Since they haven't figured out yet how to make inline links, here's
, once again.
Now let's try to find the part about "displaying commercial messages
on the surface of the moon". Makes you think of giant flashing lights,
perhaps spelling out
(If you're in MSIE you're missing the delightful blinking effect.)
Here's what TransOrbital
A specially hardened time capsule in TrailBlazer containing messages
and memorabilia will remain on the Moon's surface as a permanent message to the future.
Join us by sending your thoughts, dreams, and images to the Moon.
Back to democrats.com:
Now check this site out for the Artemis Society - the group that is
behind TransOrbital. It reminds us of those rghtwing front sites that lead to multiple
front sites and nothing is what it seems. You'll notice that their web host calls
itself the "Illuminati" and is based in Texas.
More innuendo. Since they didn't give the Artemis
link, there it is.
First, they get the web host wrong: Artemis says
Illuminati Online provided web hosting services and electronic mail
hosts for the Society for several years. The Society has since moved on to a much
larger, faster server with multiple T3 connections one step off two Internet backbone
providers, but we fondly remember and appreciate the excellent support and extensive
resources that IO provided while we resided on their servers.
They even get the Artemis/TransOrbital connection wrong - they have it backwards.
From the TransOrbital site:
A group dedicated to constructing the first commercial lunar base,
and supporting commercial space work. TransOrbital's roots began here and we are a
proud supporter of The Artemis Project.
As for the name, Illuminati, that comes from the famous
developed about 1981 by
. The owner of the ISP and Steve Jackson
So, what does this "rghtwing front site", Artemis, tell us?
For one thing, the founder is
Gregory Bennett. A reasonably thorough Google search fails to turn up any sinister
right-wing connections. Or left, for that matter. He's a busy man. He's a VP at
Bigelow Aerospace, a Las Vegas company specializing in the commercial
development of space travel. He also owns
Budget Suites of America. He's a
science-fiction writer. And he's been in the aerospace industry for about 30 years.
Artemis is connected with
The Moon Society. Once again, no right-wing connections. These people just want
to put Man back on the Moon. We've been away now for about 30 years. It's time
we went back.
I haven't read all of the rest of democrats.com. What I have read makes my head hurt.
Their writing is not that good. It reminds me of a first-year journalism course.
They rely more on character assassination and innuendo than on logical argument.
Since they're so wrong about TransOrbital, I can only conclude that the rest of their
site is a farrago of jejune babblement.
These ill-informed luddites really ought to take a look at China's space program.
There's no doubt that the Chinese are going there, and that their aims are primarily
military - see
posted by Mike 15:38